Windows Home Server gets Windows 7 support

However, Power Pack 3 for Home Server still leaves out Macs, limiting its appeal

The coming Power Pack 3 for the Windows Home Server operating system will let users backup and restore Windows 7 PCs, Microsoft Corp. said on Friday.

Microsoft said in a blog post that the upgrade would also add compatibility with netbook computers and enhancements for multimedia fans.

However, Power Pack 3 of Home Server will not add backup or monitoring capability for Macs, a highly-sought-after feature, judging by interest -- and unofficial Mac backup solutions -- posted to online forums by Home Server users.

Microsoft is taking sign-ups now for the beta of Power Pack 3, a free update to Home Server that is similar to a Service Pack in the regular Windows. Microsoft hopes to release the final version before Windows 7 becomes generally available on October 22nd.

Other new features in Power Pack 3 will include libraries for Windows 7 that will let users more easily find multimedia content on other machines, and enhancements to Windows Media Center connectivity.

First introduced in late 2007, Windows Home Server is meant to be an easy-to-use backup server tool for home users. Microsoft is giving out free 180-day evaluation copies of the software.

Sales have been sluggish, however, due to the weak economy, competition with less-expensive Network Attached Storage (NAS) products and Web-based storage services, and even Home Server's Windows-centricity.

While Home Server can store Mac files, it cannot be used to do full back-ups and restores of crashed Macs -- as it can for PCs running Windows XP, Vista, and, soon, Windows 7.

That lack of full Mac support limits the usefulness of Home Server, especially for early adopters who are likely to run a combination of Windows, Mac and Linux machines at home.

"Have we looked at [adding full Mac backup and monitoring]? Sure," Windows Home Server product manager Steven Leonard told Computerworld recently. "But we think that there is a lot more work to be done for the Windows platform. That's the path we're going down."

Hewlett-Packard Co.'s latest MediaSmart home servers, which run a tweaked version of the Home Server operating system, can back up data on Macs through their Time Machine software, but they cannot back up and restore the Mac's OS.

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Eric Lai

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